Commissioner's Blog: Your rights on cancelled flights
Ask any traveller about their top travel peeves and cancelled or delayed flights are likely to feature highly on the list, given their potential to throw holiday plans and itineraries into turmoil.
Flight cancellations and delays are among the most complained about issues to Consumer Protection – in the 2022/23 financial year, we received 530 complaints about flights being cancelled and 47 complaints about them being delayed.
When your own travel plans are disrupted, it’s always best to contact the airline or your travel agent in the first instance to request a resolution. If that fails, consumers may come to us for help with negotiating a fair outcome under Australian Consumer Law through our conciliation service.
In one recent case, our conciliation service was able to successfully organise a $21,222 refund for a family who had little option but to buy business class tickets to return home to Perth after their initial flights were cancelled by the airline. Another recent success story involved a $2,000 refund from an airline that had stopped responding to the consumer’s communications after cancelling their flights.
When it comes to your own travel disruptions, your right to a remedy will depend on which party made the cancellation and why.
If the airline cancels, they may offer a refund or another remedy, such as rescheduling your flights without penalty, or – if none are available in a reasonable time – reimbursing you the cost of booking replacement flights with another airline.
Passengers may not be entitled to a refund if they miss their flight or change their mind and an airline’s obligations may not apply if reasons are outside their control, like bad weather.
Cancelled flights have been in the spotlight recently, after the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) launched legal action alleging Qantas Airways had engaged in false, misleading or deceptive conduct by advertising tickets for more than 8,000 flights it had already cancelled but not removed from sale.
The ACCC’s Federal Court case concerns Qantas flights sold between 1 May 2022 and 31 July 2022 and the national consumer affairs regulator is hoping affected consumers will share their experience via an online survey at https://consultation.accc.gov.au.
If you are struggling to reach a suitable outcome with an airline over a cancelled or delayed flight, lodge a complaint on our website at www.consumerprotection.wa.gov.au or contact 1300 30 40 54 or email@example.com
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